vCenter Operations Management Suite 5.0 overview

VMware announced the release of vCenter Operations Management Suite 5.0 today. With the release of vCOM, Capacity IQ has been put to sleep as all of Capacity IQ functionality has been fully integrated into vCOM. So what does this tool offer?

Apart from the features that CapIQ offered, vCOM will provide you more insight on whats happening in your virtual environment performance wise, alert you for any risk or current issues and forecast any potential issues that could come up down the road. Not to mention it will also tell you how to more efficiently use your environment. Sounds insane doesn’t it?

Let’s look at the screenshot below. What we have here is a dashboard that gives you the view of your world. Now what is your world? A world comprises of one or more vCenter along with it’s population. In the example below, we are looking at whats happening across two vCenters. The holistic view below shows you the hotspots under the health category which may require your attention along with a Risk widget that predicts issues in the future. The efficiency widget scans your environment and proposes ways on how to right size your VM based on how it has performed overtime. As you can tell, vCOM is boldly telling us that we can reclaim 308 vCPU, over 9TB of disk and 1 TB of vMemory, nice aye!! Instead of wasting more money in buying more resources for your environment, lets make full use of what we have. I am sure your boss will appreciate that as well and when it comes time to hand out bonuses, saving 9TB of disk alone will be hard to ignore 😀

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Why aren't my VMs free?

 

I am sure we have all been on that road. And now with a huge number of private clouds popping up by the day, it becomes even more important for the business units to understand why their VMs aren’t free. Historically IT is looked upon as an expense by most organizations. As much as I hate to admit that, I can understand why they would think so. After all, it’s really all the servers doing their magic in the background in order for the business units to do their jobs and make profits for the organizations. But still IT is an expense.

Traditionally I have seen IT buys all the equipment within the budget that’s allocated to them and the business units drive the need for equipment to be purchased. In most small business that is the end of story and there is no concept of chargeback or even showback. However, in larger enterprises I have seen at least the equipment cost being covered by the project that has demanded the need. Now with the cloud, it has become more important for IT to try and implement some kind of chargeback or at least a show back mechanism.

 With the business users being able to provision servers on their own in the cloud, it is important that they understand how the provisioning impacts capacity and adds cost for future hardware purchases. Now I am not a genius but I would think implementing a chargeback/showback mechanism will probably be a better long term solution than taking away the ability to provision from the business users in order to avoid a chargeback/showback implementation. Would you rather have your IT staff engage in efforts to better your network or sit down and click through the provisioning wizards? Why doesn’t the accounting/HR department fill my time sheet? Because it will be stupid if they do. Likewise, it will be stupid for IT to engage in provisioning servers when it can be easily handed over other departments. Obviously, I call my accounting department when I have questions about accounting and if someone from another department has questions about provisioning servers, I will definitely answer their questions.

Implementing a chargeback/showback solution is usually an emotional subject when users know they are provisioning VMs and no additional hardware was purchased to fulfill their needs. This is why I think it’s best to introduce showback where you provide dummy invoices that are paid with monopoly money at first until the concept is digested by the business units. This in itself will result in more responsible behavior. The fact is, once the business users realize the cost of what they are trying to do, they are more mindful of what they end up doing. They are not idiots, after all, what they do helps us get our paychecks right?

Once showback (a monthly dummy bill of computing usage) becomes the norm, chargeback discussions can follow. Of course to introduce any kind of showback, one must be able to come up with the unit cost based on the value of storage/cpu/memory/network etc etc. Will the cost be based on allocation or usage? How many tiers of storage? Should thin provisioning cost less than thick? These are the types of questions that one must try to answer before introducing a showback solution to an organization. Also, your chargeback cost allocation for computing units should echo what was shown in the showback. Or else you might end up looking like the evil force that no one likes. Keep in mind, you are doing this to help your business. There are multiple tools out there like VMware Charge Back, vKernel Chargeback, Solarwinds Chargeback Automation, vFoglight etc that will assist you in automating a chargeback solution for your virtual side. Just keep in mind, start off with showback and wait before you start sending out real invoices to the business units you are serving.